Lebanon Reporter

State News

November 2, 2013

1963 coliseum blast still shapes survivor's life

(Continued)

Yet Janie's 38-year-old daughter, Jenny, can't help but wonder. Would Jenny even exist if her grandparents had survived? Jenny's father was divorced when he met Janie. That may well have been a non-starter in the White household.

Janie doesn't necessarily disagree. But more than the marriage, it was her own divorce, years after moving to Knoxville, Tenn., and having two children together, that made Janie's mind return to her parents.

To Janie, Al and Violet White were the picture of a perfect marriage. There was no question they adored each other.

Janie had let them down, in her mind at least, when she dropped out of school. Now she was kind of letting them down again.

Janie didn't start to come to terms with it all — not properly, at least — until nearly three decades after the explosions.

By then, she was a decade divorced and still living in Knoxville. Her oldest daughter was in her late teens and dating a guy Janie didn't like.

In many of the screaming matches with daughter Reneé, Janie was the one acting irrationally. At some point, Janie realized she needed help.

She had seen a counselor when she was having marital problems and figured maybe it would help this time, too.

It hadn't really crossed her mind that her parents' death might be the source of her troubles.

But after three or four weeks of sessions, the counselor caught on and started to draw Janie out. She can't quite remember exactly what question opened the floodgates, but once she started talking about it, she couldn't really stop.

"I was 38 years old," she says now, "grieving as a 13-year-old kid."

The fights with Renee were easy enough to decipher. Abandoned by her parents, Janie was afraid of her daughter leaving her, too.

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